My definition of wellness has changed drastically over the years. When I first began thinking about being healthy it was for all of the “outside” reasons. If you want to know the truth it was probably to get a flat stomach. I have wanted a flat stomach since I was 12 years old!
Of course, this lead to some not very healthy ways to achieve that coveted flat stomach.
By the time my dad suffered a serious heart attack which would change my parents plans, and mine in some ways, I was teaching aerobics in various gyms and centers during law school. My main focus on being healthy during that time was to be physically fit and look the part. Following my dad’s heat attack, I started looking at health as more than exercising and began looking at foods as either “good” or “bad” and even swore off ever touching fast food.
It wasn’t until later when was I teaching group fitness classes and training clients as my main “gig” that I began focusing more on the nutrition part of health and wellness. I was asked questions and for opinions on foods, diet and nutrition and I knew I did not have the real qualifications to answer. I took nutrition courses and became certified so I could have the knowledge to honestly answer and coach on that aspect of health. Since what we put inside of our bodies is so much more important than having that flat stomach, (or biceps or tight booty) I thought I had it all figured out.
However, as I continued to coach, learn and grow, I found I’d only gotten part of the equation. Along with some maturity, life events and more studying I found what we put in our minds is just as important as what we put in our mouths.
In fact, when I designed an online wellness program, I made this a portion. As part of the program we would have a small item each week that would touch on being mindful, a small habit or practice to round out this third part of the equation of wellness.
To be honest, though, I still struggled in my own little world to keep all of these things in balance for my own wellbeing. I still found myself trying some new program, a sugar detox, a regimen, trying a new supplement or fast, new workout program or way of eating. I kept trying to fix myself. Externally.
All of these experiments ended being just that – experiments and not a way to build a solid healthy lifestyle. I needed to take an honest look at my intention. What did I really want? What does a healthy lifestyle mean? What is the end goal?
Here it is:
To me wellness means being resilient, vibrant, energetic, open to experiences and change and focusing on longevity. Here’s the thing. I am 53 years old. The way I look at it I have many years ahead and I want to do everything I can to make the next 50 even better than the last.
This is my definition and how I define wellness. It may not be yours or that of your neighbor. Your own definition is personal and only for you. Only you can know what your own definition is.
I have been focused on and fascinated with the idea of resiliance for quite some time. Resilience is an all encompassing attribute which I believe, when allowed, touches on every aspect of life, decisions and wellbeing. The ability to bounce back every day and, sometimes, every hour helps give the vibrancy, curiosity, interest, and energy that is the wellness that I am looking for.
The way we feel in our bodies and in our own skin can shift with the season, time of month, and even hour of the day. You know sometimes you may feel awesome, on top of the world, then by Monday morning feel like a complete overblown balloon. Right? Our physical bodies go through so many phases, changes and ups and downs. Our body reacts to the stress around, what you eat and drink, what you don’t eat or drink, how you rest, whether you sleep, your emotions, whether you had a fight with your mother or even the grocery store clerk. That’s just how God made us. That is where building this type of resilience comes into play.
I see wellness as the ability to move back and forth between emotions, challenges, moods and life’s hurdles and able to come back to yourself, to process within without all of the needless worrying about the outside of your body.
Also, and most importantly, achieving wellness is not some end goal that you reach when you hit a certain milestone like losing 10 pounds, putting on that bathing suit or even running that marathon. It is not a won and done thing. It is a constant ebb and flow because it is life. It is how you think and feel and sometimes you are going to think and feel like crap, but the beautiful thing is that you will not always think and feel like crap. It will be temporary. Your emotions will ebb away, your bad mood, your feelings of being stuck or down or up against a wall, will eventually change. Your resilience allows you to bounce back and be safe and well.
As I see it, wellness is being aware of all of these changes and being able to allow them. To not push them aside, numb them or disassociate from them or from your body in a way that ultimately proves to be some form of unhealthy practice – such as overeating, underrating, over drinking, over exercising, obsessing, to name a few.
We are all so much more than the physical bodies we walk around in all day long. (I’m getting a little woo woo here, but hear me out, because I’m just typing as I’m talking. . . )
Often we are only concerned with how we look. This is so easy to do these days with so much attention placed on physical appearances from society and social media. But we are all so much more than simply how we look and whether we like or hate the way we look. Real wellness requires us to have a real connection between the body, heart and mind.
Some people seem to naturally have this connection. Others come by it in different ways and at different times in life. For some women, pregnancy can be a time of real connection and appreciation for the body. Sometimes illness and recovery, or overcoming a physical injury, sometimes it is caring for a loved one or even losing a loved one, that help bring on a different appreciation or view of the body.
So I am wondering if you have redefined your own view on wellness. Here are some good things to marinate on. . .
Do you have your own definition? It is important to think about your intention. Do you know it? What about your goals? And why is that goal important? What are you doing to get to there? What are you doing for your body? How are connecting your body to the rest of your being?